(NaturalNews) What do drinks sweetened with aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and naturally occurring fructose have in common? Recent studies link them all to NAFLD, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
Reported in the Journal of Hepatology, a new study found a link between NAFLD and a higher intake of soft drinks and fruit juices.
Dr. Nimer Assy, Director of the Liver Unit at Ziv Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, is a specialist in internal medicine, liver disease and liver transplantation. He reported that people who drink more than a quart of sweetened beverages daily develop fatty liver at five times the rate of those who drink much less. This is a concern because, in the long-term, this liver condition can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Dr. Assy came to this conclusion after evaluation of a questionnaire given to 90 of his patients, which asked about their level of daily physical activity and calorie intake, and the daily consumption of soft drinks. His definition of soft drink also includes naturally sweetened fruit juice. Fructose is the common ingredient that he says goes straight to the liver and causes the fatty condition.
He suggests to his patients that they limit the amount of soft drink and juice to one glass a day. Also, to receive the nutritional benefits from juice without the problems, he recommends eating the fruit whole or drinking only juice containing the pulp, because the fibers in the whole fruits prevent the fructose from being absorbed in the liver.
Other studies have demonstrated the link between soft drinks and NAFLD. A study reported in the November 2007 Journal of Hepatology, found that the NAFLD group consumed almost twice the amount of soft drinks and 27% more meat than the group without fatty liver. They also ate LESS fish rich in omega-3 oils. The conclusion: When age, gender, BMI and total calories were adjusted, it was the intake of soft drinks and meat that was significantly associated with an increased risk for NAFLD.
A study published online on March 10, 2008, reported that increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup, primarily in the form of soft drinks, is linked with complications of the insulin resistance syndrome. The researchers looked into the pathogenic mechanism underlying the development of NAFLD. In patients with NAFLD, hepatic mRNA expression of fructokinase, an important enzyme for fructose metabolism, and fatty acid synthase, a necessary enzyme for lipogenesis, were increased.
Although Dr. Assy didn`t include artificially sweetened soda drinks in his study, he believes the aspartame and caramel colorants can lead to the same fatty liver condition by increasing insulin resistance. In fact, studies done on Diet Coke found that the methanol in the aspartame converts to formaldehyde, both in the unopened can in the fridge as well as in the liver. Because the body doesn`t eliminate the formaldehyde, it combines with water and is stored in the fat. What isn`t stored in the fat becomes converted to formic acid.
A 2001 study by Dr. James Bowen, posted online in 2008, further confirms the association between NAFLD and use of aspartame. Because aspartame`s metabolism into formaldehyde and formic acid takes place in the mitochondria, it is the mitochondrial tissues which are attacked by these two toxic substances. The resulting defect means that fat cannot be processed for use as energy. The formation of fat from dietary calories proceeds, such that liver cells and fat cells store fat and cannot get rid of it no matter how badly it is needed to supply energy to the body. This could be one reason many people cannot lose weight even with exercise and healthier diets.
In addition, the mitochondrial DNA is rendered abnormal by the aspartame/methanol poisoning, leaving the mitochondrial function of energy metabolism insufficient, defective and incomplete. Free radicals are also produced. Dr. Bowen states that this mitochondrial DNA damage can actually be directly transmitted by female aspartame users to their children and grandchildren, and to subsequent generations through the mothers.
Bowen, Dr. James: "Steato Hepatitis, Another Extensive Nutrasweet Plague", 2001
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